"This poignant picture book narrated by a young boy is based on a true story of a New York City teacher who set up a school on a blue tarp spread on the ground near a garbage dump in Tijuana, Mexico. Armando works all day with his father in the foul-smelling dump, picking through trash, "some to sell, some to use." He begs his parents to let him go to the blue tarp school, and at last, his parents allow him to attend in the afternoons. Clear, unframed, double-page pictures in watercolor and ink with thick white outlines show the children on the tarp in the midst of the noisy colonia (neighborhood) and also the bond between the boy and his teacher. When a huge fire burns the neighborhood, Armando's picture of the fiery night is printed alongside the story in the newspaper, and people send money to build a real schoolhouse. A lengthy final note fills in the facts and includes photos of the teacher and the pupils at the school now. Without melodrama, Armando's story shows what poverty means and the hope that things can change."
"This affecting tale-of a plein-air schoolroom in a deeply impoverished neighborhood populated by pepenadores (trash pickers)-springs from the real deal. . . . The simplicity of the story is what lets it run deep, its bite of realism; no sermons are being delivered here, just a door thrown open to life under reduced circumstances (though Sosa's artwork, with its look of leaded glass, conveys a benevolent quality to the proceedings). Without patronizing, Señor David defines the essence of humanitarianism, while the pepenadores, ever searching for beauty in the beast, find gold-and prize it."
"The well-written text will be an eye-opener for children who take school for granted."
-School Library Journal
"This picture book based on a true story is marked by Sosa's bright and appealing illustrations, which authentically portray the impoverished setting."
"The authors do an excellent job communicating the difficult living conditions of the most vulnerable of the poor-children who work rather than go to school and live in shacks alongside the dump. . . . This book makes a tremendous addition to any collection of children's literature that focuses on high quality content. With its developing country setting and the story of the real Señor David Lynch at the back, the book is as realistic as it is inspiring."
-The Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children
"Hernan Sosa's sensitive and detailed watercolor and ink illustrations reveal much about life in the colonia, a neighborhood bordering a towering trash heap, as he brings to life Armando's thin mattress on cinder blocks, his few treasures on a makeshift shelf, and the candle by his bedside for light. . . . With a liberal sprinkling of Spanish words and phrases, authors Fine and Josephson tackle some powerful themes of social justice and equal opportunity, but the story is not heavy-handed or preachy. Armando's story is likely to prompt children of all ages to think hard about the gifts and privileges in their own lives. . . . This book about a blue tarp school teaches a valuable lesson about hope, possibilities and the power of one person to make a difference in a community.
"This is a straightforward story that captures the warmth of the adults and the enthusiasm of the children for their unconventional school. . . . Young readers . . . will be touched by this gentle account of hardship overcome by perseverance."
-Library Media Connections
"Wonderfully written. . . . This book illustrates the true depiction of the `power of one' and is a lesson for all children and adults on how we can positively influence the community in which we live."
-Kristin Baranski, The Yellow Brick Road
"A great tale for everyone. Armando and the Blue Tarp School is a tale of triumph for the human spirit. Edith Hope Fine and Judith Pinkerton Josephson published this wonderful story based on a real experience they had twenty years earlier. Learning and schools do not need stone walls, floors or glass in the windows, but a passionate and devoted teacher is an important ingredient."
-Entertainment News USA
"Want a book that infuses culture and compassion, hope and healing into a language arts lesson? Check out Armando and the Blue Tarp School by Edith Hope Fine and Judith Pinkerton Josephson. . . . This bilingual treasure, beautifully illustrated by Hernán Sosa, is filled with enrichment possibilities. As a former language teacher, I love the glossary in the back of the book that can springboard a lesson in Spanish vocabulary. As a counselor, I appreciate the healing effects of art therapy woven into this jewel. And as a character mentor, I imagine the potential for a dialogue about empathy using the Think and Discuss questions on the book's website."